La Misión Impossible - A Surprise Whale Encounter!


It started off as a daytrip to Ensenada - an opportunity to try out some of the newer wineries in the Valle de Guadalupe at the start of May. Aurora, Juan Carlos, Norma and myself headed south knowing that the journey would be slower than usual due to the newer road being closed for rebuilding after subsidence the previous December. This meant we'd need to follow the old road south, a road which bends inland near La Misión and offers spectacular mountain scenery in contrast to the coastal road under repair.


We made it inland a few miles then went round a bend in the road and we were suddenly confronted by a traffic jam as far as the eye could see. It was fortunate we were in a valley and could therefore see several kilometres ahead. It was a case of La Misión: Impossible, and after about five seconds thought we turned the car around headed back north. Ensenada could wait for another day!

On our way down we'd noticed that the beach at La Misión was crowded, so we decided to head there to have a look round. It was a Saturday, and a holiday weekend so there were hundreds of people there, mostly families relaxing on the sand with a few kids frolicking at the water's edge.


Norma and I went for a walk on the beach, took a few pics, and then there was a "Jaws" moment - parents screaming at their kids to get out of the water. But it wasn't a fictional shark they were concerned about, they were responding to something far more benign, though no less surprising.


A pair of grey whales were swimming no more than a few metres from the beach. Panic turned to pleasure, and the cameras, tablets and smartphones came out to commemorate the moment. Kids stood there watching, perhaps never having been so close before to these cetaceous giants.


The pair then swam out into deeper water, only to swim back nearer to the beach. If these were two stragglers starting their northerly migration late they certainly didn't seem bothered about being left behind! By this stage of the year most whales are already halfway up the Pacific coast of the USA, on their way to the Bering Sea near Alaska. Not that I'm complaining!


We took some more pics and headed back to the car, the assembled ponies on the edge of the beach waiting to once again be the number one animal attraction on Playa La Misión.


Hours later we were in Rosarito trying to buy beer, but there wasn't any to be had on the main drag. Instead the area was strewn with exhausted cyclists drinking the town dry. This was the moment when we realised the cause of the original traffic jam that morning - the Rosarito Ensenada bike ride!